A lawmaker said Wednesday the Philippines should heed the Japanese government’s warning of possible terrorist attacks in Southeast Asia.
Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel, chairperson of the House strategic intelligence committee, said: “Our sense is, it is best for all of us to take the alarm seriously and heighten our vigilance. Our security forces should take all the necessary precautions.”
“Hundreds of Japanese corporations are heavily invested in the Philippines and the rest of Southeast Asia. It goes without saying that Japan devotes considerable intelligence gathering to look after these interests, including the Japanese citizens working in the region,” he added.
But the Philippine Coast Guard assured the public that it “sees no reason to be alarmed” after the Embassy of Japan in the Philippines warned of possible terror attacks in six Southeast Asian countries.
In a statement, PCG Commandant Vice Adm. Leopoldo Laroya said district commanders across the country have “always been” on intensified border protection and 24/7 seaborne patrol operations within their areas.
“With the latest pronouncement of the Japan Embassy, rest assured that our men and women will not put their guards down and will continue to be vigilant in conducting precautionary measures for public safety,” Laroya said.
Pimentel, however, said the last time a foreign government openly warned of a possible terrorist attack in the Philippines, “an incident actually happened.”
Pimentel cited the failed attempt by the ISIS-linked Abu Sayyaf Group to kidnap foreign tourists in Bohol in April 2017.
Two days before the Abu Sayyaf incursion in Inabanga, Bohol, the United States embassy in Manila had warned its citizens over “unsubstantiated yet credible information that terrorist groups may attempt to conduct kidnappings in Central Visayas, which includes both Cebu and Bohol provinces.”
The Bohol raid resulted in clashes that killed 11 militants, along with three Philippine Army troopers and a police officer.
Japan’s Foreign Ministry urged its citizens on Monday to stay away from religious sites and large gatherings in six Southeast Asian nations, warning of a possible attack.
The ministry said it had obtained information that “there are increased risks such as suicide bombings.”
The warning applies to Japanese citizens in Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Myanmar.
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